Sunday, February 25, 2007

Holiday in hell?

I just saw a very entertaining TV documentary on a Dutch commercial tv station. The program title was: Jouw vakantie, mijn vakantie (Your holiday, my holiday). Two families join each other and travel as one team to their favourite holiday destinations. Of course the producers make sure that they select completely different families and holiday destinations that are also each other's opposites.

In today's episode two English families went to Las Vegas (to check out the casinos and 'eat as much as they could') and to Yosemite National Park (for some good old hiking, mountain biking, climbing, camping - you name it, they did it all in one week). The three members of the family that wanted to go to Vegas were all clearly overweight - or big, as they preferred to call it themselves. They really loved to be in this luxury environment where both the parents were gambling while their 10 year old son was eating giant ice creams and playing video games. The only outdoor activity during this week was a guided tour in a chocolate factory where - yep, you've guessed it - you could eat as much chocolate as you wanted...
At the high point of this wonderful week of fun the parents renewed their marriage vows in a kitsch white chapel, the skinny couple with their thin daughters were invited to witness the whole thing and couldn't hide their embarrassment (or should I say utter shock and disbelief?).
During one of the diner conversations the 'big' lady said: "It's so good that everything is air conditioned here, you don't even have to go outside". I just couldn't believe my ears and eyes! In one of the shopping malls they even painted a blue sky on the ceiling to give you the real outside feeling. The 'skinny' lady told the camera that this reminded her of the Truman Show (a must see, btw!) and that she really wanted to escape from Vegas and run to the looming desert as soon as she could!

The skinny family - consisting of two parents and daughters of about 10 and 14 years old - went on their ideal vacation trip to Yosemite National Park. They were obviously very fit and active and that is why they hated about everything in Las Vegas - with only one exception: the helicopter flight above the city at night. When it was their turn to have their 'week of fun', they couldn't wait to smell the fresh air, walk some miles through the woods, climb some rocks, while camping at night in a spartanic environment. They did climb the half dome (see pic, click to enlarge) - but the other untrained family wasn't able to do that (which didn't surprise me at all) and were constantly complaining - be it in a very British, humorous way.

Of course this is a silly, fabricated situation - you can't expect untrained people to become hikers, mountain bikers and climbers overnight. Only the 10-year old boy was very enthusiastic about the experience - especially about the beautiful animals he saw. It really looked like this was his first encounter with wildlife in a natural environment. His dad was complaining about the fact that he was so far away from civilisation and he described the whole vacation as the worst thing that ever happened to him.

I felt sorry for the kid, because it seemed that he was really enjoying himself, especially during the hike and the mountain bike downhill ride, but he also wanted to stay loyal to his parents who thoroughly hated all these 'fun' activities. Anyway, this program really made me think. For me it is easy to choose - Las Vegas would be a holiday in hell for me and I would love to go to Yosemite National Park with my family. But first I have to lose some weight to get in shape myself and save some money to pay for such an expensive trip. Maybe I could go to the Dutch mountains to become a better climber and to a local casino to make some quick bucks... What do you think?